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Before there was Frodo and the Eye of Sauron, and before there was Mordor and the city of Edoras, there was the affable Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his utopian home in the Shire. From these rolling green hills which are peppered with hobbit holes, and simple dwellings where Gandalf must crouch, Frodo would set out on his epic adventure which was chronicled in theLord of the Rings.

Now, with the release ofThe Hobbit movie series, the area around Hobbiton has skyrocketed in fame as the Shire becomes central to the tale. More than just hobbits and wizards and horsemen, you, too, have the chance to visit the Shire on a trip to the town of Matamata.

Set in the hills to the east of Cambridge about two hours outside of Auckland, Matamata was the filming location for the joyous home of the hobbits. When filming was finished for theLord of the Rings, the hobbit holes remained in the pasture they were set in since they blended so seamlessly with the landscape. There is even a sign that says “Welcome to Hobbiton!” that sits at the entrance to the hills. You can walk inside of the Green Dragon Inn, see the famous party tree, and learn about how the movies were filmed which took place in this very same spot.

More than just a look at the Shire, a trip to Matamata is also a glimpse of life in rural New Zealand. Farming and ranching are still a way of life in these rolling, grass-covered hills, and it’s a journey to the heart of where it all began for the world’s most captivating films.

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Matamata, New Zealand

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